Should You Stock Up On Chocolate Bars Because Of Ebola?
Jack Scoville was buying himself a chocolate bar a few weeks ago — Hershey’s, milk — at a corner store in Chicago. And he noticed the price was just a bit higher than he’s used to paying: 5 or 10 cents more. His first thought was not to blame a greedy store owner or the executives in Hershey, Pa.
He blamed Ebola.
Scoville is a senior market analyst at Price Futures Group, and he looks at the cocoa commodities market. Last month, cocoa contracts — the price that chocolate suppliers agree to pay for raw cocoa — spiked in large part because of Ebola fears.
"The price made the move to three-year highs in response to the Ebola crisis, on fears that it could spread into Ivory Coast and Ghana," says Scoville.
Ivory Coast and Ghana together produce more than half the world’s cocoa. And they’re both next door to Ebola-affected Liberia and Guinea.
Now the fear isn’t that you can get Ebola from chocolate. Everyone I’ve interviewed on this story urged me to remind my readers that YOU CANNOT GET EBOLA FROM CHOCOLATE. The fear, rather, was that if Ebola were to jump over the border to Ivory Coast, those cocoa farmers would scatter to avoid exposure to the virus. The cocoa fruits — the seeds of that fruit that we call the cocoa bean — would stay unpicked. And Halloween would become as expensive as Christmas.
"That," says Scoville, "would be the fear."
Photo: A woman farmer picks cocoa pods in a field north of Abidjan, Ivory Coast. (Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)